Growing Quinoa in Tibet

Quinoa is a nutritious grain originally grown in South America. It is well adapted to high altitudes and harsh, dry environments. With excellent nutritional and economic value, quinoa can contribute to enhanced food security along with poverty alleviation on the Tibetan plateau.

For several years, crop breeding specialist (and Plateau Perspectives’ China director) Prof Gongbo Tashi has been carrying out agricultural experiments with Quinoa, a grain crop grown primarily for its edible seeds. Over 260 households and 300 farmers have received training in a farmer field school, and at least 37 varieties of quinoa have been tested in arid lands in Lhatse county. With co-financing from the provincial government and from the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives, and working in collaboration with Tibet University’s Agriculture Department, 183 hectares are planted in a study design aiming to determine optimal quinoa varieties and growing conditions. Product development for food markets also is now underway with several national companies.


Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) training for development also has been provided for government staff from the agriculture, animal husbandry, poverty alleviation, and environment and forestry departments, as well as leaders of several government offices and the heads of six districts (townships) in Lhatse county. The main purpose of such training is to help staff improve their capacities in poverty alleviation work and to gain a better understanding about sustainable development – in line with the central government’s new strategy for carrying out more effective ‘targeted poverty alleviation.’


Supported by Plateau Perspectives since 2008, this agricultural development work was further introduced in a China Daily article, Supergrain quinoa thrives on plateau, published on 8 September 2015:

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